Unsafe in California: Big-Rig Truckers Talking on Hands-Free Phones While Driving

If you’ve noticed a trucker on a California road talking on his cell phone through a hands-free device, you may have also seen some unsafe driving, like drifting into the other lane, running a stoplight or switching lanes when it wasn’t safe. You might be worried about truck drivers being allowed to use their phones at all—for good reason.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) shares your concern. It wants the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to ban this dangerous practice

The Accident That Led to the NTSB Recommendation

The NTSB is requesting this ban in part because of a crash that occurred on May 28, 2013, in Rosedale, Maryland. A truck driver crossed railroad tracks without first checking for a train and was hit, causing the derailment of 15 cars and a massive fire. Investigators later determined that the truck driver had been distracted by an incoming call on his hands-free phone. The driver suffered serious injuries and the fire caused damage to property as far as a half-mile away.

The NTSB does not believe the current ban on using hand-held cell phones goes far enough. From its investigations, the NTSB has determined that using hands-free phones gives an illusion of safety, but the devices themselves are dangerous distractions.

Distracted driving is first on the NTSB’s 2015 Most Wanted List. This list was created in 1990 to increase public awareness of transportation safety issues. Distracted driving was on the 2014 Most Wanted List, too, so it’s definitely a problem that hasn’t been solved.

Do you think hands-free cell phone usage while driving is distracting? Should it be banned? Share your experiences in the comments section so we can all learn from them.

Peter Steinberg
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Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Since 1982
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